Diann Shaddox Foundation for Essential Tremor
Nutrition and Parkinson’s Disease
One of the most common questions is what the best diet is for patients with PD. There is no simple right answer to this question. However, nutrition may be an important factor to improve the health and well being of patients with PD. Many publications support this important issue. Timing your protein intake, diet supplements, are common strategies tried by patients in order to improve their well being. Parkinson’s disease can affect the motility (movement) of the gastrointestinal system. High fiber diet and adequate hydration can help avoiding constipation.
Protein intake can decrease the absorption of Carbidopa/Levodopa. Taking your Carbidopa/Levodopa one hour prior or two hours after protein intake facilitates the absorption of the medication. High protein content is found in meat, chicken, absorption dairy products, fish, pork, tofu, eggs, soymilk, nuts and seeds. High fat intake can also affect the absorption of medications by slowing stomach emptying. With so many restrictions, it can be complicated to ingest the proper amounts of nutrients and caloric intake, to avoid undesired weight loss and nutritional deficiencies. A common nutritional deficiency seen is calcium and vitamin D deficiencies. This can occur because of protein intake is limited; therefore dairy products ingestion is compromised. Calcium and vitamin-fortified cereals, juices or smoothies may facilitate getting the proper amounts. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants that can protect the brain from free radicals. Free radicals are atoms or molecules produced by our body as byproducts, which are linked to cell aging. Vitamin C is a know antioxidant that protects our bodies from free radicals. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a very potent antioxidant produced in the human body. The concentration of CoQ10 decreases with age. Many investigators believe it is low in patients with cancer, heart disease, muscle disease, and PD. Daily use of 400-1200 mg/day of CoQ10 supplements have been studied, and is associated with possible improvement of motor function.
A topic of debate is a gluten free diet. Gluten intolerance can cause GI inflammation, malabsorption and digestive upset. This is the result of an immune system disorder that affects the small intestines known as Celiac disease. This autoimmune disorder can affect the nervous system, causing neuropathy, ataxia (poor coordination), dizziness, and migraine headaches. Some researchers think that gluten sensitivity (even in patients without Celiac disease) could be linked to PD. Although there is no way of knowing with certainty if PD is linked to gluten intolerance, eliminating gluten products from your diet may be a risk-free approach to understand whether you have this problem. Gluten free diet means avoiding wheat, rye, and barley products. Anti gliadin antibody test is a blood test that can help identify this condition. Talk to your doctor about any nutritional concerns that you or your caregiver may have. God bless.
Dr. Baez-Torres is a Movement Disorder Specialist with Florida Hospital. If you would like to make an appointment to see her, contact her office at 407-303-6729
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